There are some things that happen in this universe that cannot be explained. Strange coincidences, bad things happening to good people, and my sons’ overwhelming embarrassment of my mere presence in most situations. And their overwhelming acceptance and approval of their grandmother’s presence in any situation. Their grandmother who never embarrasses them is my mother.
Growing up, I remember being embarrassed by my mother many many times. In her defense, I was a pathologically insecure child who was embarrassed by even my own shadow. And in her defense, my close friends loved her and liked sitting around and chatting with her, and when we were at cheerleading camp one summer, one friend became homesick and announced she wished she was “at your house with your mom and the three of us sitting on the couch together watching a good movie with a big bowl of popcorn”. So, my embarrassment I felt for my mother had nothing really to do with her, and had a lot to do with me. And before I go any further, I want to emphasize that no one else seemed to have a problem with my mother but me. And I certainly wouldn’t want her to type up a piece on all the ways I mortified her when I was younger.
I wanted a mother who was sophisticated looking; trim, with gorgeous clothes, and I guess who never spoke. My mother was and is beautiful, but during those years of trying to raise four children, hold down a full-time job and deal with a husband who was becoming increasingly irresponsible, sophisticated and elegant she was not. She had gained some weight, she wore double-knit polyester, elasticized pants and sensible shoes and she cut her hair in a “practical” style. She wasn’t a member of the group of mothers I considered the “in” group, she didn’t play golf, and every car she drove was a hand-me-down from the local funeral home that my dad worked for. Each time the funeral home purchased a new “family car”, we got the old model for our family car. She smoked, but not while lying around the country club pool in her bathing suit with a beer or cocktail in her hand like the sophisticated mothers. She never had cool parties on weekends with her friends, serving alcohol and exotic snacks. She put her bare feet up on the coffee table. She cut my bangs too short.
If she caught me out in public with the cool crowd who had bad reputations, a crowd I would desperately try to impress, she thought nothing of roaring up in her big Cadillac with MY little grandmother in the seat next to her and my siblings in the back, giving me a piece of her mind before ordering me to “get in”. If we were marching with the school band or performing in some other school function, she would yell our names and wave and cheer to get our attention. Once, when she picked me up from school in the middle of the day, as we drove off in front of the whole school in her old Cadillac, the muffler partially fell off right in front of the school, meaning one end of it remained attached to the undercarriage of the car and the other end fell off, and so it was drug as we drove and I can still hear the excruciatingly loud din of the sound of a metal muffler dragging and scraping against asphalt coupled with the even louder racket a car makes when it has no muffler. I wanted us to crash and die, but it didn’t bother her in the least, and when I was forced, literally forced by her to return to school that day, people told me they could hear us and the car from their classrooms blocks from the school as we drove home.
As I got older, I became even more immature. I simply cringed when my mother even opened her mouth in public. As I became even more introverted and self-conscious, my mother became more confident and outspoken. Her every move mortified me. And became exaggerated in my own mind. Her opinions sounded boastful and arrogant. Her table manners seemed crude. When she popped her gum, it reverberated in my ears. If she needed help or directions, she made no bones about hollering to get someone’s attention and assistance, whereas I would rather flounder for hours on end than ask for assistance. I thought she talked too much.
I always vowed that if and when I had children, I would be the type of mother that my children would be proud of. A cool mom. A good-looking and thin mom. A mom who had absolutely no traits that would be embarrassing to a child or teenager. Then I had my sons.
Long story somewhat shorter. I am not a loud person; I don’t say much out in public; I am slim and I love clothing and fashion and dress well. But what goes around, comes around and it has come around to me. My sons don’t want me saying even the slightest thing to anyone out in public. They don’t want me to roll down the window after I let them out for school and say good-bye. They don’t want me to get out of the car at school for anything. They don’t want me asking waitresses for anything and they really don’t want me to complain in a restaurant even if I have good reason. I said something very nice to a friend of theirs recently in a store and one of my sons stormed out of there, angry and humiliated. They don’t want me saying anything to coaches and they want me to keep my mouth shut at parent-teacher conferences. They don’t want me cheering them on from the sidelines during games or runs. They mumble and when I ask them to repeat it, they get mad.
However, their grandmother can do no wrong. She now goes everywhere with us and on her cane and walker, and it doesn’t bother them in the least. She cheers them on loudly from the sidelines and waves her cane and they don’t mind. She talks to their coaches and teachers, introduces herself and brags on them for minutes on end it seems and it doesn’t faze them. If I try to discreetly ask her to bring something down a notch, they get irritated with me and tell me to leave her alone. She talks to everyone and even becomes friends with waitresses by the time we leave a restaurant and they love it. She talks loud because she is losing her hearing and they happily repeat what she doesn’t hear. They hug and kiss her in public in front of everyone; friends and coaches.
So this is a public apology to my mother. I am sorry for being so rude to you when I was younger and when I was older. You weren’t doing anything wrong but trying to be a mom, and my own insecurities about myself were being taken out on you. And few things amaze me more and make me happier than seeing how my sons delight in having you around – and in public and in front of everyone.
Karma is a b___ch. And so was I.